Among four limbed animals, salamanders are the champions of regeneration. They can regenerate an amputated leg or tail, as well as various internal organs. In her first talk, Elly Tanaka explains that axolotl limb regeneration is an excellent system to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of limb regeneration in vertebrates. Tanaka and her colleagues have shown that the regenerating limb has positional memory. For example, an amputated hind limb with regenerate a hind limb and not a forearm. They also have identified the key signaling molecules involved in determining positional identity.
In her second talk, Tanaka expands on her work on signaling in axolotl limb regeneration. She explains how her lab used the technique of expression cloning to identify several factors required to trigger the cell migration and proliferation required for regeneration. Tanaka was also curious about what signals differentiate a wound from an amputation. It was known that regeneration required the presence of nerves as well as the interaction of anterior and posterior limb tissue. Tanaka’s lab was able to show that the expression of the signaling molecules SHH, on the posterior side, and FGF8, on the anterior side, of an amputated limb were enough to sustain regeneration. Identification of these signaling molecules has advanced our understanding of limb regeneration in vertebrates.
Dr. Elly Tanaka studied biochemistry as an undergraduate student at Harvard University and received her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. Tanaka developed her interest in limb regeneration as a postdoctoral fellow with Jeremy Brockes at University College London. She went on to become a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of… Continue Reading